Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday: Why Criticize?

Working Mom WednesdayThis post isn't just for working moms, but since a mom's decision to work outside the home or not is a lightning rod for criticism and comparison among moms, I think it's fitting for Working Mom Wednesday.

I noticed one day last week that one of my favorite bloggers had received a couple very harsh, very rude, very personal attacks from one particular commenter. The woman's criticisms were the most over the top things I'd ever seen on a blog, even attacking the blogger's young child. Seriously, people! Would you say such things to a person's face? Then why be so cruel online?

It is interesting how the blog world has opened up a whole new venue for personal attacks that in previous decades might have been reserved for public figures or other celebrities. By blogging, people are choosing to make their personal lives a bit more public, but is that any reason to pick them apart and tear them down?

I don't know what sort of hurt motivated the aforementioned mean commenter to say what she said, but I suspect it came either from jealousy (Meanie wishes she had something Blogger has) or defensiveness (Meanie does things differently from Blogger but isn't confident in her decision). That's no excuse, but it's easy to see how the blog world can tempt a person toward either.

Regarding jealousy:  I know I am so often tempted to compare my life to others when scrolling through my Reader. Blogs make it so easy to peek in on others' private lives, and I'm quick to envy another blogger's beautifully-decorated house or fun-filled SAHM-lifestyle. When we read someone's blog, we see only a small glimpse of her life--only the glimpse she wants you to see. So of course it looks pretty good.

But even if that person's life really is every bit as great as you imagine it to be, it's not yours. Quite possibly, it's not yours for a reason--you've made different choices, and can be tempted to second-guess those choices when you see the choices others have made. We all want to be good parents, but because there are so many ways to parent, it's easy get defensive about your own choices. Yes, working full time or cloth-diapering or homeschooling or whatever may work for your family, but when those comparisons kick in, you wonder if you've made the right decision.

There are several bloggers I read whose kids were born within a few months (or weeks) of Kate, and though I know kids develop at different rates and have different strengths, I still find myself thinking things like, "oh, that child is saying X number of words; why isn't Kate?" And then I wonder if it's something I'm doing wrong. Do I not use a wide-enough vocabulary with her? Or worse--is it because I work full-time and maybe she's not getting enough one-on-one attention from her day care teachers? I know I'm being melodramatic, but the temptation is there.

We can't help but notice comparisons sometimes, but one doesn't have to feel jealous or defensive about one's own parenting or child's development. Parenting is tough, and we're all doing the best we can. Let's not criticize others for doing the best they can as well.


Francesca said...

I very much agree with you. One can not disrespect another person, just because of jealousy or because (you think) the other person did something better and you didnt think about it first. I really like it when I read stuff from blogs and I always make it a point to learn from them. If I feel that somehow, somebody achieved something that I havent I just do my best and make that person an inspiration. I tell myself "if she can do it, so can I".

Maegan Roper said...

Thanks for posting this, Jessica. I fully agree that the temptation is ever so present with blogs particularly. Jeremy & I have found that more scrutiny has come with making our current "set-up" and situation with our family more known through my blog, but you said it best in that you have to do what works for your family and learn from others that may do it differently. And frequent reality check for myself- "No one has it figured out does it perfectly!" :)

EMU said...

Hear hear! You put many of my jumbled thoughts about the blog world into a beautifully written blog post; I wish I had written this post! :)


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